It would appear that the months of speculation regarding the memory components to be found within Microsoft’s looming Xbox 2 games console-cum-media and communications hub have finally been laid to rest, with M-Systems CEO Dov Moran claiming his company will be fitting the device with flash memory.
In an amazing interview in an Israeli newspaper, Moran stated, "It’s a co-operation agreement. The potential is not clear, but it is in the billions of dollars. Microsoft has taken the hard disk out of its Xbox. The only thing left will be a CD; that’s all. At some point, when users want to save their e-mail messages, copy music, or anything like that, the only storage they will have is what we give them. It is worth hundreds of millions to the company, spread over a few years, and we will be the main supplier for it; and I hope the sole supplier.”
As to whether Microsoft will work with a company so eager to shout its business from the rooftops, subsequently giving Sony Computer Entertainment an invaluable insight into the inner workings of the next Xbox, remains to be seen.
Not happy with explaining the memory storage functions of the next generation of Microsoft home console, Moran decided it would be a good thing to drop a hint as to when the manufacture of the machine will begin. "Meanwhile, development is intense, and requires expenses, although not major ones," he said. "We’ll start supply only in 2005."
One thing from this is clear: Microsoft will employ high-capacity flash memory in the Xbox 2, a technology that has been plummeting in price of late. This will empower the machine with significantly faster data-access speeds, as well as avoiding the many issues related with housing the hard disk.
One of the most common reasons for current Xbox consoles to fail stems from hard drive issues. It is also worth noting the endemic piracy suffered by the Xbox, with many consoles fitted with after-market high capacity replacement units.
The question remains, how much flash memory will be incorporated in the Xbox 2? At this moment in time, M-Systems has a portfolio of flash discs ranging in size from 16MB to a whopping 47GB, often deployed in military aircraft.
We’ll bring you updates as this interesting story develops.